What Does the New Year Hold for Supply Chains?

What trends are in store for B2B-integrated businesses in 2015? Mickey North Rizza of Supply Chain Digital recently offered several:

Improvement in organizational alignment will be increasingly necessary to maintain and enhance the level of performance in procurement; bolstering relationships across the enterprise will be key.

The proliferation of multi-channel retailing and supply chain consolidation will call for strategies that improve inventory network efficiency and customer service.

Increased Internet integration will require strong relationships with sourcing partners, and the real-time tracking and management of supplier performance will be necessary to contain risk.

Emerging markets around the world will spur growth, notably Asia Pacific and Latin America, and risk identification within these new markets will be key to success.

Finally, procurement officers will be fostering closer relationships with suppliers, treating them like true partners: leveraging their problem-solving knowledge will become a strategic edge, prompting their inclusion in the planning process.

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Are You Using Reverse Logistics?

Reverse logistics get a lot of press in supply chain news, and for good reason: making use of them can lead to considerable savings.

Reverse logistics are concerned with supply chain aftermarket activity, including Customer Service (which feeds back into product lifecycle and development), servicing, remanufacturing, recycling and sustainability. Strong reverse logistics can lead to considerable gains in efficiency, and have a positive impact on product support activities such as refurbishment, field service and parts management. The Reverse Logistics Association adds that RL is “the scientific process of managing assets, in every department in all industries and across all disciplines.”

Within this definition, the data tracked in Reverse Logistics falls within the purview of B2B integration in general: parts, servicing, refurbishment, and other areas of RL all leverage the same data-sharing mechanisms and process that conventional logistics do, placing them within reach of most partners already using B2B.

Given the compatibility of Reverse Logistics with conventional B2B integration resources and logistics, Rl is a worthy consideration as a profitable undertaking for B2B-integrated organizations in the coming year.

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Supply Chain Strategies for Peak Product Delivery Seasons

Strategic planning for peak delivery seasons such as the holidays is most of the battle, according to Doug Pasquale, Ingram Micro Mobility’s senior executive for supply chain solutions.

“First and foremost, have a dedicated holiday supply chain strategy put in place at least six months before the holidays,” he said, adding that it’s wise to begin planning for the next peak period once the present one is completed, and that it is important to communicate with other B2B partners as soon as possible.

Another best practice is to commit the planning and resources necessary to make your B2B supply chain contribution a differentiator to both vendors and buyers, he added, pointing out that no-hassle policies regarding returned product will bring favor on both sides.

In addition, he said, sophisticated demand forecasting and strategic response plans for supply chain disruption can also be the difference between holiday season success and failure.

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Boost Resources and Share Logistics during Holiday Supply Chain Shifts

UPS will deliver a record 585 million packages by the end of December, and that’s 11 percent more than it delivered last year. That’s a lot of product being moved – enough packages, if placed side-by-side, to circle the planet four times.

“The holiday season is a major retail sales opportunity for our customers, and we have worked closely with many of our shippers to plan delivery volumes,” said UPS Chief Commercial Officer Alan Gershenhorn. “Our objective is to ensure that all of our year-round business and retail shippers can take maximum advantage of expanded UPS capacity during this important period.”

He said that a supplementary workforce of almost 95,000 seasonal employees were hired prior to the December increase, and that almost 50 additional sorting shifts were implemented in the company’s hubs and delivery centers around the US, to handle the increased traffic.

Part of the strategy for handling such supply chain activity surges includes the sharing of demand forecasts with other supply chain partners early in the process of ramping up for the season. Equally important is sharing logistics results with partners, for the refining of analytics that will improve the accuracy of forecasting the next time around.

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